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A dog and a rodent under one roof

author Lucy Byrne | Care and raising


Are you considering getting a rodent as your new pet but you are afraid it won’t be doing good with your dog under one roof? Don’t be afraid, dogs and rodents can do great together. It is important to teach your dog from an early age that other animals are not an inconvenience. Then, it is not important if you had your dog as the first or second animal in your family.


If you are afraid that a dog will not stand a rodent, you don’t have to. Dogs and rodents can handle it well under one roof. Every dog with good upbringing should be also able to respect other pets in the household. If you choose the right method of upbringing it is possible even for breeds which were created to hunt rodents.  Moreover, if you teach your dog to get used to other pets from its early age, their life together shouldn’t pose any threats.


Dogs can take any animal to their pack. Moreover, they are naturally obedient which is a characteristic feature you can work well with. Therefore, it is not only about the nature of the dog but also about the approach an alpha takes, i.e. that you take. It is then unnecessary to worry about your dog hunting a small pet. At home, we are also experiencing a developing “friendship” of a dog and a brown rat. And our bitch is already three years old. We taught them to get used to each other gradually and now, they are almost inseparable companions.


What would I recommend you based on our fresh experience?


  • Trust your dog. Thus, you will strengthen its healthy self-confidence.

  • Don’t rush, everything needs its time. The friendship between a dog and a rodent as well.

  • First, let your dog to have a look at the little animal when it is still in a terrarium or a cage.

  • Prepare some treats. A dog always likes to be complimented. And a rodent will also like some reward.

  • If the dog stays calm, proceed to the next step – sniffing.

  • Both of them will be curious about the other one. Read the body language of your dog.

  • Have a rodent in your hand at first.

  • Observe their reactions to each other and intervene if necessary. Calmly, not rashly.

  • Don’t be afraid, the animals can feel your fear. Moreover, your dog may want to protect you.

  • Do not expect the little pet to be cautious. Natural instincts have been lost particularly at lab rats and similar rodents.  

  • Talk to your dog all the time. You can help it to get to know what’s going on and get the impression that the little furry animal is really a friend.

  • But don’t let your little mouse to do anything to your dog that might be uncomfortable. For example, gnaw its paws or muzzle.

  • But never punish your dog if it for example hits the rodent in the reaction to an uncomfortable situation. The dog would then associate this experience with negative emotions. Warn him by a simple command “no” or “don’t”.

  • Once your dog gets used to noises, movements and odour of the new member of its pack you can let them both freely move in a room.

  • If the dog loses its interest in the rodent fuss in a while, it’s a good sign.

  • Don’t ever let your dog with the rodent alone even if you know the dog really well.

It is definitely necessary to know your dog really well. That’s why I wouldn’t bring a rodent when the dog is still an impetuous puppy. Observe the pose the dog gets into when seeing the little animal. If it has its tail down, ears pulled to the back and bristled back, it is probably afraid (yes, there are some dogs who behave like this), it can get frightened and hurt the rodent. Ears turned to the front, head leaning to the side, a raised tail or crouched legs, it may mean the dog is willing to play which is a good sign. Some dogs simply can’t get used to living with a rodent but you may see that already in the stage when you have the rodent in your hand.


If you are afraid your dog wouldn’t stand a long-term living with a rodent, try it at first. You can arrange a visit with your dog at some friends’ who keep a rodent. You can see your dog’s first reaction and choose the next steps accordingly. It’s often new experience for the dog and it needs some time to get used to it.


What is your experience with the co-existence of a dog and a rodent under one roof?